German Summer Dispatches Part II: Koblenz and Bonn

Like every year, we did a trip to see family in Germany at the end of August. This year, like so many before, I took a selection of bottles with me. On part I I told you of the dispatches from the Hull ferry and the dispatch of one bottle into the almost empty river Ems. The next stop on our tour brought us to a bigger stream: the river Rhine which has carried quite a lot of my bottles. Before this summer, I have (at different locations) trusted it with 20 bottles of which six were found. This summer I put another 7 into its arms. We’ll see…

August 23rd

Deutsches Eck, the point where the river Mosel feeds into the river Rhine, seen from the cliffs on the other river bank, taken from one of the cabins of the cable tram

On the 23rd (Friday) we made a day trip to Koblenz which is located where the Mosel joins the river Rhine. There’s a aerial cable tramway going across the river to allow easy access to castle Ehrenbreitstein. We had a great day, riding the cable tram and seeing the castle. And to finish the day of I went with the kiddos to dispatch from bottles into the river Rhine, right from that joining point there.

from left to right these are bottles numbered 113, 116, and 117 getting ready for their release

and that’s me getting ready

Right after throwing the bottles in, a cruise ship approached. I stood and watched: would its bow wave catapult the bottles onto the concrete rwalls? Throw it off course? Or transport it further into the middle of the stream?

The boat and my bottle (marked a little thinly, slightly to the centre left of the photo

the bottle and the boat, zoomed in for more drama

In the photos I now could make out just the one bottle, but there were all three visible to us while we were standing there. The one that is in the pictures is the one that was swimming furthest ahead, I believe. The ship passed behind the bottle when it drove past first. It didn’t seem to impact too much on the bottle’s path, just rocked it a little. But then it decided to turn, and I lost track of where the bottles were. I believe the ship must have gone over it. And it wasn’t your measly little boat either:

when I took the photo, I believed I could see the bottles bobbing alongside it – but now I can’t spot them anywhere

But I trust they survived this early ordeal, and I hope they’ll find their way downstream into the hands of happy finders.

August 28, Bonn

After another family visit, we then made our way to Cologne and then to Bonn at the river Rhine. This is where the project all started. The very first seven bottles were released in to the river Rhine from a ferry very close to the Kennedy Bridge from where I decided to put in the last couple of bottles I carried with me.

From left to right these are bottles numbers 119, 121, 112, and 114 waiting for their dispatch

Once again the kids were very eager to help. And so they took turns throwing in my messages in bottles.

119

121

112

114

I am looking forward to the day when they start asking about making their own bottle. But for now, I just shall be waiting for messages from finders of these ones. – Travel well, my bottles!

West Coast / Irish Sea Dispatches Part 3 – North Wales, Llandudno and Rhos-On-Sea

Llandudno Pier

After having dispatched bottles in Chester on Thursday and Liverpool on Friday, it was time for North Wales on Saturday. At the Breakfast table we had still not quite decided where to go. But it was clear that we’d take the A55, and we’d decide on the spot whether to stop in Colwyn Bay or drive on to Llandudno. And since both kids were still patient when we came close to the first, we made it to the latter.

As you can see in the photo above, the beach close to the pier is of sand. Much of the beaches in North Wales are pebbles, and I suppose that there is some sand there, is what makes Llandudno attrative as a seaside resort. This is what a town looks like, when the Victorians think it makes a good Holiday destination:

Llandudno beach as seen from pier

As you can see now, only part of it is sand, the other half is the more characteristic pebbles. I found the non-existing transition between the two startling, and wonder how natural this beach is. However, the co-existence of both is natural in the area between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno.

As you can also guess from the photo, the weather wasn’t brilliant. We spent a bit of time at the beach and in the sand, went for lunch in one of the thousands of pizza-places and then went back to the pier to drop in the bottles. At that time, the skies looked rather threatening:

rain moving in

Well, and so we made this quick. I had been thinking of booking us on a boat ride around the bay, and drop the bottles from there. But the kids were cold, and none of them wanted to go onto the noisy (if you ask me rather exciting) motor boat ride.
High tide was on that day at 13:13, and it was now 13:50 – perfect timing. I simply went to the head of the pier that to drop them off. Below you see a picture of that pier pulled off Wikipedia:

By Gary Beale – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62435137

On the very front was a small plattform reserved for fishing. After brief deliberation I decided against it, and threw in the bottles from the visitor’s part. These are the bottles I brought:

Llandudno bottles just before their dispatch

The two big ones made by peter, the two little ones made by me. They are a little hard to make out here. The smaller one of Peter’s bottles displayes a clearly readable “Do Not Read. Do Not Open” 🙂 The big one with its characteristic red paint should be clearly visible. Mine are the No. 115 “Underground Pool”, and No. 109 “Lone House”.

M. snapped me while throwing in the first bottle

Without much ado, I simply threw them in as far as I managed to and simply one after the other. Then I watched them float out of the bay.

Bottles starting to float away (just below the middle)

I hope you can make them out, floating there. The big red-striped bottle was the first I threw in. As you can see I got a bit more practise as I went. But then, the big one went into the lead:

The big red one catching up and overtaking my two small ones

On our way back to Ellesmere then, we decided to pull out in Collwyn Bay – which looked like nothing, just a long sand beach with no pier, and I didn’t want to drop in a bottle there, it seemed pointless. But we followed the promenade to Rhos-on-Sea, and while there was not really good opportunity there either, I figured I take my chances and left one other bottle:

Bottle dispatched in Rhos-on-Sea

As you can maybe see in the photo the was in a small little harbour. In the next photo maybe you can see it swimming near the stones:

Rhos-bottle floating

As always, I wish all those bottles save travels and pleased and excited finders. – As I am so slow with updating this blog, already two of those 13 west-coast bottles have already been found. More in the next post.

Dispatch of Bottle No. 104 in a Happy Splash

Looking downstream onto the Trent Bridge from the footbridge that we used to drop our bottles into the river Trent

Jet Propelled, a friend and fellow artist from Beeston, near Nottingham recently brought me into (online) contact with another woman, a German who lives in West Bridgeford and misses the German language. We ended up discussing about meeting up, and she invited me and Jet for cake and tea. Since it turned out she lives in walking distance to the Trent a plan to dispatch some bottles formed…

We were lucky with the weather: After days of snowy April weather, the skies were clear on Friday 5th here in Nottingham. The wind blew in breezy bursts and made it feel rather chilly, but the sun came out and played beautifully with the gentle waves, turning the river into a street of silver and gold. At least from where we sat and assembled some bottles.

Bottles gathering on our bench

I always enjoy to have company when dropping off bottles!I brought two filled and sealed bottles with me: My bottle No. 104 with a little folded paper boat in it, and Peter’s bottle No. – ack! I don’t remember its number; the number is bound to be close to mine. He sent it to me when I was setting off to drop some bottles into the river Don in Sheffield, where both our bottles numbered 100 hit the waters (read more about that dop off here).

Bottle No. 104 “Paper Boat”

Ursula hadn’t prepared anything, but was eager to also have a go. Jet brought her own bottle but had not sealed hers yet. And while they were making their bottles ready, I also made another one on the spot.
And so we sat and wrote and assembled…

Jet assembling her bottle

My trusty Zippo had just run out of fuel, and thus sealing the bottles with sealing wax turned out frustratingly difficult.  We sat at the bridge head, crouching and shielding the flame in a joint effort. I managed to melt and scrape some sealing wax onto my bottle, but then we decided to give up. I am fairly sure that they are all closed well, the wax had been more decorative than anything, I suppose.

trying to melt sealing wax klein

Then we decided to drop the bottles off a suspension bridge a little upstream from Trent Bridge after all. This one is only open to pedestrians while Trent Bridge has heavy traffic.

Bottles getting ready

And so, after about an hour of walking and assembling, one bottle after the other went over the fairly high railing on the bridge. I made a start with my little paper boat bottle:

Yours truely throwing in the first bottle

Next it was Jet’s turn. she had filled her bottle with a piece of driftwood, decorated with pink ribbons, brass wire, some other little tokens including found text, and of course with a letter inside:

Jet throwing in her bottle, titled “53” after the number appeared on the found text she collaged onto the wood

Next, I put in Peter’s bottle. Isn’t the bottle itself so very beautiful as the sun came out to bid it farewell. I hope whoever finds it will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed having it in my studio for a couple of months:

Peter’s bottle getting ready

Unfortuntately my new German friend was so quick to drop in hers that I didn’t manage to capture her with the camera.

And then I was up again: My riverside bottle contained a good handful of lucky stars, a little touchstone, and one of the most personal letters I have written so far. I didn’t give this one a number, as it wasn’t meant to be part of the series, or at least not necessarily.

getting ready, and….

gone

As always, I keep  my fingers crossed for a good voyage and gentle finders.

Sheffield: Part 2 – Day 1, Twice the No. 100

From 9th – 12th October I spent a couple of days in Sheffield. They were my personal writer’s retreat: I booked myself into a hotel and spent my days there to write. BUT of course I carried a couple of bottles to dispatch, too. I had a really good time, with walks along the river and canal, discovering little and big things on my excursions, with new ideas and trying marmite for the first time – and got a lot of writing done.

Unfortunately because I was writing anyway, I failed to write here on this blog while things were happening, which I now realise was a mistake: Packing everything I want to tell and show you into one big blogpost is just too much. So I decided to split it into three (or maybe it will turn out four) parts. You can find the first part here, in which I show you a bit behind the scenes bottle making.

Here’s a map of the dispatches, as some kind of preview for those who are just too curious just now (and also in case a bottle is being found already). You’ll notice that there are three kinds of markers in there: the blue ones are where I dropped off my bottles, the red ones are sightings, and the green ones are where I dropped off Peter’s bottles.

sheffield blog -1

Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

Day 1 – Upper Don Walk

I arrived in Sheffield later than expected on Tuesday, due to a derailed train at Sheffield train station. I had planned to first visit the river and then check in, but now I decided to first go to the hotel. Which turned out to be a good decision since Sheffield is much more hilly than expected, and with that I mean steap streets, steep, – mountaineous! Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad, but the constant sloping makes walking with a pull along suitcase full of books and paper (I was there to write after all) a bit of a hassle. Wikipedia agrees that my feeling that Sheffield is exceptionally steep is justified:

Sheffield is a geographically diverse city. The city nestles in the eastern foothills of the Pennines, and a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter. As such, much of the city is built on hillsides with views into the city centre or out to the countryside. Blake Street, in the S6 postcode area, is the third steepest residential street in England, with a gradient of 16.6°. The city’s lowest point is just 29 metres (95 ft) above sea level near Blackburn Meadows, while some parts of the city are at over 500 metres (1,640 ft); the highest point being 548 metres (1,798 ft) at High Stones, near Margery Hill. However, 79% of the housing in the city is between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft) above sea level.

Well, I arrived on a lovely sunny and warm autumn day, and right after checking in to my hotel, I packed my backpack with some bottles, and started to walk to find the river Don. When I came closer to Lady’s Bridge (the oldest bridge in Sheffield), I discovered this:

sheffield 12

Well, if that’s not inviting, then I don’t know what is. I went through the arch and immediately reached the Don:

sheffield day 1-1

When you look in the photo with the arch above, you’ll see that the path through the arch brought me onto a foot path along the river. From the entrance it looks like you could walk up or downstream, however the downstream path was blocked by a building next to Lady’s Bridge. The photo right above here shows the view looking left, upstream, onto the bridge from where I would shortly after dispatch my first bottle in Sheffield. Looking to the right revealed the sight of the Lady’s Bridge as you can see it in the photo further above.

I followed the path upstream and crossed the next bridge, the foot bridge you can see in the photo above, and then the walk continued on the other bank. Without much hesitation I decided to throw in my first botte, the 100th message in a bottle in this project:

dispatch no 100 kleiner

The view from the bridge, a last look at the bottle, and then the farewell

My bottle drew the attention of some ducks which, although they seemed disappointed that the object that had fallen from the bridge didn’t seem edible, swam around and with it. Lazily the bottle bobbed in the water and moved very slowly. It was easy to cross the bridge, and then follow it on the Upper Don Walk until I reached came closer to the Lady’s Bridge and had to walk around a building which meant I briefly lost sight of the bottle. Up on the bridge I expected to see it again. I wanted to check whether it made it down the weir. But the glaring sun and its many reflections on the water made it hard to spot the little bottle. I have a series of photos which I shot in the believe they had the bottle on it. But upon close inspection on my computer, it looks just like waves and leaves and stones.

sheffield day 1-2

Upstream view of the Don from Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

I mentioned before, that I was carrying not only my 4 bottles to Nottingham, but also Peter‘s. And as fate would have it, his bottles carry the same serial numbers as mine did. So I had another No. 100 in my backpack that wanted to be set free.
According to his blogpost he had read up on the river Don and knew to expect weirs. I was blissfully unaware of them until I saw them. I had dropped in mine without hesitation, but seeing its slow trundle along the lazy river, and also because it was rather big, I figured I’d rather drop it in from lady’s bridge, below the weir.

But, upon crossing the street and looking down the bridge, I had to realise that there was a little island just behind the bridge, blocking the free flow of the river.

sheffield day 1-3

Lady’s Bridge from below the weir

I later learned, that these islands in the Don are due to the weirs. The rushing water washes up sediment, and with the water quality rising in the river, they are home to wildlife and are cherished and cared for.

Just downstream of Lady’s Bridge, the Upper Don Walk ends, and the Five Weir Walk starts. Ah, well, so there were more weirs to be expected.
From where I stood I could see the next bridge, and hoped to find a better place there to dispatch Peter’s centennial bottle. No such luck: Another island was waiting for it there. By that time, however, I was beginning to feel eager to return to me “real” work, and figured, I’d have more time tomorrow to explore more of the river, and after all, I had six more bottles to dispatch. So in it went. I took great care to find the best spot where the bottle would hopefully avoid the island. I watched it float downstream, happy that I seemed to have chosen well:

peters 100 kleiner

It went swiftly past the island, but then floated toward the right – and got stuck on a piece of driftwood. I watched it struggle for a while. The current and gusts of strong wind seemed to help it move on – almost. After a couple of minutes I gave up for the day, determined to come back the next day.

 

Four splashes in Skegness

Skegness Beach, trying to find a spot and moment where I wasn’t watched putting the bottles in

First of June is the birthday of my twins (who are at the beginning of the story of this whole project), and we went to Skegess with them for this weekend to celebrate their big day. Of course I also brought some bottles with me. Now, when you put a bottle into the sea from the shore, chances are it will return to the same shore (most likely the same beach) from where you put it in. But this was the only thing I could do this weekend, and some of the bottles have waited for a dispatch since October, so I figured, I’d just take my chances. And after all, if they get found soon, that also has its advantages: It is likely that the contents are undamaged, and they’ll hopefully make their finders happy, no matter how long they travelled.

Bottles No. 93 and No. 96 shortly before their dispatch at Skegness Central Beach at 2/6/2018

We reached Skegness central beach on Saturday 2/6 at about 4pm. It was a couple of minutes to low tide, and thus an especially bad time to put in a bottle. The beach was rather crowded considering that the weather was far from brilliant. It was foggy, but at least wasn’t raining, and there was a yellow alert of heavy rainfall in place. Thus I figured, I’d rather put them in now, than not being able to dispatch them at all. I chose bottle No. 93, one of those with a monoprint on them, and a more recent bottle, No. 96.

Lot of effort that got my trousers completely wet – but bottles went up too high, and landed maybe 5 meters away from me in the water

I am rather poor at throwing, and they just sat there for a long time.

I brought two more bottles with me to the coast, and I kept those two until the next morning. We went to the pier in the morning, and waited for it to be opened. It was 10 minutes after high tide when we went stairs and walked to the end. Maybe an hour later would have been a better time, current-wise. But the water was already retreating, and thus I figured that the chances for them to wash out of the Lincolnshire bay were positive.

Bottles No. 94 and 95 shortly before their dispatch from Skegness Pier on 3/6/18

I went with my son onto the pier, and he insisted on throwing in one bottle himself.

As you can see, he really just flatly dropped it, and while it did land in the water…

we watched it land while we were standing on the pier. So we went down, picked it up, and he gave it another go.

The other bottle which I put in, looked like a promising dispatch:

a close-up:

Right after returning from the pier (the second time) I found this:

Notts Rocks

On the backside of the pebble it said “FB Notts Rocks”. I looked it up in the meantime, and it is a community of people who decorate rocks and pebbles and leave them at places for others to find. – Wonderful, absolutely wonderful! It will have its own special spot in my studio! Thanks to whoever left it there for me!

That’s it from me from the Skegness dispatches. 3 of the 4 bottles were already found by the time I am typing this blogpost. I’ll speak more about the finds, and the bottles (with contents revealed) in the next days. So stay tuned!